India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.36 percent to 16,057.70, as of 0508 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 1.09 percent to 53,553.72, after snapping a six-session losing streak on Monday. Reuters/File
The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.36 percent to 16,057.70, as of 0508 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 1.09 percent to 53,553.72, after snapping a six-session losing streak on Monday. Reuters/File
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Updated 17 May 2022

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban

MUMBAI: Indian shares extended gains to a second session on Tuesday, supported by metal stocks.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.36 percent to 16,057.70, as of 0508 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 1.09 percent to 53,553.72, after snapping a six-session losing streak on Monday.

LIC falls in market debut

Shares in Life Insurance Corp. of India slid 5 percent in their market debut on Tuesday, a fresh setback for the state-owned giant after its initial public offering, while record-breaking, raised far less for the government than initially envisioned.

The country’s biggest insurer and its largest domestic financial investor was trading at around 900 rupees ($11.6) per share on Tuesday morning compared with its IPO price of 949 rupees, valuing it at around 5.7 trillion rupees or $73 billion.

The share price decline is in line with a slump in the broader market since LIC’s IPO opened for subscription on May 4.

“We were not expecting big, as markets were jittery, expect it to pick up,” LIC Chairman M. R. Kumar told reporters.

At one point on Tuesday, LIC shares plunged as much as 9 percent before paring losses.

The government had raised roughly $2.7 billion from selling a 3.5 percent stake in LIC.

 

US concerned over wheat export ban

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday he has “deep concern” about India’s wheat export ban, which spurred a rally in already elevated wheat prices.

“What we need is transparency in the market, what we need is a market that is helping to get goods to those who are in need,” Vilsack said on a call with journalists.

 

(With input from Reuters)


Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project

Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project
Updated 8 sec ago

Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project

Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed full control over a major oil and natural gas project partly owned by Shell and two Japanese companies to a newly created Russian firm, a bold move amid spiraling tensions with the West over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine, according to Associated Press.

Putin’s decree late Thursday orders the creation of a new company that would take over ownership of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co., which is nearly 50 percent controlled by British energy giant Shell and Japan-based Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

Putin’s order named “threats to Russia’s national interests and its economic security” as the reason for the move at Sakhalin-2, one of the world’s largest export-oriented oil and natural gas projects.

The presidential order gives the foreign firms a month to decide if they want to retain the same shares in the new company.

Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom had a controlling stake in Sakhalin-2, the country’s first offshore gas project that accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s market for liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Japan, South Korea and China are the main customers for the project’s oil and LNG exports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that there is no reason to expect a shutdown of supplies following Putin’s order.

Shell held a 27.5 percent stake in the project. After the start of the Russian military action in Ukraine, Shell announced its decision to pull out of all of its Russian investments, a move that it said has cost at least $5 billion. The company also holds 50 percent stakes in two other joint ventures with Gazprom to develop oil fields.

Shell said Friday that it’s studying Putin’s order, which has thrown its investment in the joint venture into doubt.

“As a shareholder, Shell has always acted in the best interests of Sakhalin-2 and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements,” the company said in a statement. “We are aware of the decree and are assessing its implications.”

Seiji Kihara, deputy chief secretary of the Japanese cabinet, said the government was aware of Putin’s decree and was reviewing its impact. Japan-based Mitsui owns 12.5 percent of the project, and Mitsubishi holds 10 percent.

Kihara emphasized that the project should not be undermined because it “is pertinent to Japan’s energy security,” adding that “anything that harms our resource rights is unacceptable.”

“We are scrutinizing Russia’s intentions and the background behind this,” he told reporters Friday at a twice-daily news briefing. “We are looking into the details, and for future steps, I don’t have any prediction for you at this point.”

Asked during a conference call with reporters if Putin’s move with Sakhalin-2 could herald a similar action against other joint ventures involving foreign shareholders, Peskov said, “There can’t be any general rule here.”

He added that “each case will be considered separately.”

Sakhalin-2 includes three offshore platforms, an onshore processing facility, 300 kilometers of offshore pipelines, 1,600 kilometers of onshore pipelines, an oil export terminal and an LNG plant.
 

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Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer
Updated 34 min 9 sec ago

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, has dropped 72 places in a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for expats as it tumbled out of the top 100, according to a report issued by Mercer.

Riyadh was positioned at 103 in Mercer's Cost of Living Index 2022, falling from 29 in the previous year’s list. 

Commenting on Riyadh’s fall, Khaled Al-Mobayed, CEO of Menassat Reality Co., a Riyadh-based real estate developer, said: “The results came in contrary to the expectations, due to the pandemic’s ongoing consequences and the rising cost of logistics and supply chain.”

“Being out of the 100 top expensive cities is a good sign despite the challenges that the economy has gone through,” he added.

UAE's Dubai took over Lebanon's capital, Beirut, as the most expensive city among Arab countries in the region, ranking 31.

Despite being placed third in 2021, Beirut was not even on this year’s list of 227 cities due to the country’s economic turmoil.

The city’s fall reflects the severe drop in value of the Lebanese pound, according to Lebanese economic analyst Bassel Al-Khatib, who pointed out the minimum wage is now worth $20, while it was $450 before the economic crisis gripping the country. 

“Lebanon is extremely expensive to those who get paid in Lebanese pounds yet very cheap for those who get pain in US dollars,” he told Arab News, adding: “Lebanon was expensive for both citizens and foreigners, and with the currency dropping 95 percent and the dollar reaching record levels, the situation changed.”

“Everything has become expensive but not for foreigners who have dollars. All services by the government such as water, electricity fees, or internet are still the same but food prices skyrocketed,” he added.

Abu Dhabi was the second highest Arab city from the region, ranked at 61, while Jeddah came in at 111 this year compared to 94 in 2021.

Jordan's capital Amman ranked 115, followed by Bahrain's Manama at 117, Oman's Muscat at 119 and Kuwait city at 131.

Egypt's capital, Cairo, was placed at 154 while Rabat, Algiers and Tunis came as the least expensive in the region, ranking 162, 218 and 220 respectively.

Hong Kong topped the list as the most expensive city in the world in 2022, moving from second rank last year and taking the top spot from Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat.

Switzerland’s Zurikh and Geneva followed as second and third most expensive cities, replacing Hong Kong and Beirut respectively.

Turkey’s capital, Ankara, came in as the least expensive city, ranking 227, taking the spot from Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.


France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official
Updated 01 July 2022

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

RIYADH: France is intensifying efforts to take advantage of Saudi investment opportunities in all sectors, mostly energy, technology, water and other industrial services, the country's Ambassador in Saudi Arabia said.

Saudi Arabia is an attractive region and a suitable environment for investments in all its vital sectors, Ludovic Pouille told a press conference.

The French government and the private sector are working to expand the number of companies operating in the Kingdom, which currently stands at about 135, Aleqtisadiah reported citing Pouille.

The aim is to gain large investment spaces, and to benefit from the reforms and economic developments undertaken by Saudi Arabia, which constitute a good opportunity for French companies, he said. 

The French ambassador said France will take the model of agreements between the Al-Ula Authority and his country’s institutions in the fields of infrastructure and culture, as a starting point for expanding the map of investments in the future.


New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon
Updated 01 July 2022

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new AlNama smart city will be a zero-carbon community, according to the company charged with designing the development.

The hospitality hub, located on a 10 sq. km area in Riyadh, will create 10,000 jobs in various sectors, including green-tech industries to create a ‘green circular economy’, Construction Week reported. 

The project is planned to provide 11,000 residential units and an eventual population of 44,000 people.

ALNAMA will be designed by Dubai's URB, and the firm’s CEO Baharash Bagherian said: “AlNama aims to be the next generation of self-sufficient city, producing all the city’s renewable energy needs, as well as the resident’s caloric food intake on site.

“Biosaline agriculture, productive gardens, wadis, and carbon-rich habitats are key features of the development’s innovative and resilient landscape design.

“The city was planned through the design of its landscape, rather than its buildings. This creates an urbanism that is more socially inclusive, more economically valuable, and more sensitive to the environment.”

AlNama will consist of eco-friendly glamping lodges, eco resorts and a nature conservation center to promote ecotourism, while an autism village, wellness center and clinics within the medical hub will help promote medical tourism.

The green-tech hub will provide an innovative ecosystem for urban-tech companies related to food, energy, water, waste, mobility, and building materials


Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses

Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses
Updated 01 July 2022

Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses

Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses

MOSCOW: The Russian rouble plunged more than 6 percent against the dollar on Friday to its weakest level in 10 days, while shares in Gazprom extended losses after the gas giant canceled dividend payments, pressuring Russian stock indexes, according to Reuters.

As of 1019 GMT, the rouble was 5.9 percent weaker against the dollar at 54.50, earlier hitting its weakest point since June 21 at 54.9250. The currency scaled its highest level in more than seven years on Wednesday.

The unit lost 5.9 percent to trade at 56.85 versus the euro .

The likelihood of the rouble strengthening past 50 to the dollar has eased, said Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest, although high commodity prices were supporting the Russian currency.

The rouble has become the world’s best-performing currency this year, boosted by measures taken to shield Russia’s financial system from Western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The measures have included restrictions on Russian households withdrawing foreign currency savings.

The rouble’s strength has raised concerns among officials and export-focused companies because it dents Russia’s income from selling commodities and other goods abroad for dollars and euros.

Expectations that Russian authorities could resort to foreign currency interventions were putting pressure on the rouble, Polevoy said.

Dividend Fallout 

Shares in Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom followed divergent courses as investors responded to the two companies’ opposing dividend decisions.

Gazprom’s shares were down 5.5 percent, extending heavy losses from the previous session after the gas giant decided not to pay dividends on last year’s results for the first time in more than two decades.

Meanwhile, shares in oil major Rosneft, which approved 2021 dividend payments after Thursday’s closing bell, were gaining ground, up 4.5 percent.

“There are few reasons for optimism in the Russian market,” said Otkritie Research in a note.

The commodity sectors of the market will be under pressure and the rouble may lose some ground before the weekend, Otkritie said.

Russian stock indexes were mixed, with the dollar-denominated RTS index shedding 4.3 percent to 1,286.8 points, hitting its lowest mark since mid-June.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1 percent higher at 2,225.8 points.